DESCRIPTION:Science fiction, blaxploitation, cosmic free-jazz and radical race politics combine when Sun Ra returns to earth in his music-powered space ship to battle for the future of the black race and offer an "alter-de... more »stiny" to those who would join him. Intentionally created as an homage to the low-budget science fiction films of the 50's and 60's, SPACE IS THE PLACE became a visual embodiment of Sun Ra's Afro-Egyptian myth of salvation in outer space. The special effects, outrageous plot line and apocalyptic message harmonize with the otherworldly score and a climactic live performance by one of the most innovative and profound groups in jazz history. After having traveled through space in a yellow spaceship propelled by music, Sun Ra finds a planet he believes could serve as a new home for the black race. Returning to earth, he lands in Oakland, California circa 1972 and has to battle The Overseer, played by Ray Johnson (from 1971's DIRTY HARRY), a supernatural villain exploiting the black people. The Overseer, the FBI, and NASA -- who are after Ra's Black Space Program -- attempt to assassinate Ra, who escapes into space with his followers before the destruction of Earth. Cosmic blaxploitation cum sociological critique, SPACE IS THE PLACE defies categorization. It is at once a platform for Sun Ra's radical racial philosophies, an indictment of the government's policies in Vietnam-era U.S., cult camp flick, sci-fi movie and concert film with unforgettable performances by the Intergalactic Solar Arkestra. Since its extremely limited release in 1974 -- the film played very briefly in San Francisco and New York -- SPACE IS THE PLACE has become an underground legend spoken about but never seen, and if so, in poorly dubbed bootlegs or in the severely adulterated 1992 VHS version.« less
"this is a hard one to review. it seems very few people have seen this, or something. if you havent, you should, no matter who you are because it will fill you in on what's going on and what they dont want you to know (surprised nobody's seen it? right?). like the title says, space is the place - it is where we are and there is no place else you can really go - or i s there. It helps to know a bit about mr Ra, Sun Ra that is. there's a bunch of stuff on the web if you're curious but i dont know exactly where off hand, but check it out, have a look because he is important. This is a profoundly important movie about blackness in america, but there's a lot more to it than that, and its not preachy, it's freaky, get it? I mean i almost dont want to say that's what it's about because it is unlike anything you've probably seen and it's also about space and aliens and the devil and everything else."
"We are living in the space age..."
Matthew Jaworski | Detroit, MI | 01/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a fan of the avant garde, the obscure, or the psychedlic, please do yourself a favor, and get your hands on 'Space is the Place'. Non-linear, but a true underground classic. Witness: not-of-this-earth music, the funky rightenous of Ra, and the bending of your mind. I'd heard good (and bad) things about this film, so my curiosity was peaked. Usually when very strong reactions are evoked of such diametric opposition, it can only mean one thing: Great Art. This movie is truly mind blowing. I can think of nowhere else, where one can obtain: Sci-Fi, Blaxplotation, Philosophy, Space Jazz, and the hella ill coustumes in one easy-to-swallow capsule. I picked this up on Ebay cuz it's outta print, I strongly urge you to view this film if you are into: Sun Ra, space Jazz, being high, or wicked sounds to sample. (PS- this is available @ the Detroit Public Library, so it may be available at your public library as well).....Peace...__________________
"If you can't involve your spirit in the creative process, you can never expect to defeat the destructive elements on earth.""
If it ain't broke...
Matthew E. Olken | Austin, TX United States | 12/31/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I was very excited to finally be able to purchase this film on DVD. The VHS version has long been a favorite of mine. I bought this new Director's Cut DVD along with the new director's cut DVD of Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii. Boy, I sure do wish that the manufacturers of the Sun Ra DVD had employed Pink Floyd's tactic of including both the new director's cut and the original theatrical cut. Both director's cuts suffer from the same problem--the directors felt that they should mess around with the original releases and "improve" them according to their directorial visions. If you ask me, messing around with the vision of great musicians is not advisable unless you are an equally great director. A note to Space director John Coney: You are not even in the same universe as Sun Ra!
According to Coney, after showing the completed film to Sun Ra, Ra requested that several scenes be deleted. Coney explains this as a kind of prudishness on Ra's part because the scenes had some nudity and sexual content. True, the bulk of the cut scenes follow a pimp and hos story line that is rather racy, but more importantly, it is slow, boring and tangential to the plot. It features some crass humor, pointless nudity, and ugly violence. And, the worst of it all, these new scenes pretty much don't feature any new footage of Sun Ra. They take away from the cool mystery and cosmic themes of the movie and don't improve upon it at all. It is interesting to see these extra scenes, but couldn't they have been included as "deleted scenes"? I only hope that the original cut will make it to DVD some day."
Well done dvd edition
Christopher B. Eddy | Other Planes OF There, CT USA | 11/04/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"it is with great anticipation that I have been awaiting the plexifilms dvd release of SITP. Having seen the VHS version of the film countless times, as well as being aware of plexifilms high standards from the release of Wilco's "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart," my expectations have been high.the design of the package is clean and well done--very classy. Although this is a new transfer of the film, this is hardly a restoration in the vein of "Casablanca." There are still many blemishes and defects from the tranfer print that have not been cleaned up at all, as far as I can see. That said, color and saturation are richer, definition is clearer (especially noted in textures etc.), blacks are deeper, and there are no evident digital artifacts from compression. The soundtrack has less background noise, and hiss, but this is hardly a new 5.1 remix or anything. In fact, I have yet to determine if the soundtrack is in stereo or mono. the most significant aspects of this release is that the frame has been restored to its original widescreen presentation, and roughly 15 minutes of footage has been restored. Unfortunately, the restored footage is mostly scenes of sex and violence and does little to further the plot. I understand why Sun Ra cut this footage for the VHS edition, and I actually prefer the shorter cut of the film.I found the interview with director and producer very good, but too short. the team comes across as being very sympathetic, supportive, and admiring of Sun Ra's music and myth. There are some nice revelations (the bad effects are not just a budgetary limitation, but a satire of cheesy 50's science fiction, sun ra wrote his own dialogue, the film was originally to be a concert film in a planetarium, etc). Considering how much more light they could have shed though it is dissappointing only because it is too short. The interview is illustrated with some gorgeous previously unseen still promo shots from the set and film.For me the real jewel of this DVD are the "Home Movies" shot by Richard Wilkinson. Having not been there to see the earlier days of the Arkestra, those days are to me a mythic time. While watching the footage I was almost giddy with excitement, literally catching myself holding my breath in concentration! The Arkestra at the pyramids, dancing, in the studio, in the streets, in concert. Great shots of Sun Ra, John Gilmore, June Tyson, Marshall Allen...the stuff of dreams. amazing! in fact, I would pay just to see this few minutes of film."
More Archetypal Than Archestral
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 05/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I picked up this curious period piece of psychedelic, indie-fueled moviemaking some time ago. Sorry now I waited so long to view it. It's a delightful combination of '70's pop culture, science fiction fantasy, Sun Ra musical storytelling through his Inter-Galactical Outer Space Archestra, and black pride allegory that manages to be quite on point.
Initially, I was too fascinated by the imagery and music to think much about any message. In retrospect, Sun Ra is a spiritual being from a space colony playing chess with an earthly demonic pimpmaster for big stakes: the souls of exploited people, black (mostly) and white. The pimpmaster also plays the system, selling his black brothers and sisters to addiction and prostitution for his own pleasure, trapping them in an oppressive, seemingly inescapable existence. A third main character is the media commentator--Jimmy Fay--who seems to be a shill for the pimpmaster and his worldly culture but eventually comes around (perhaps more John the Baptist than Jesus Christ) to sharing the enlightened message of Sun Ra, joining those who are delivered from bondage. All ends happily in a Sun Ra space colony of resurrected, reborn black/white humanity.
Even if you don't buy the Biblical allegory, it's still a cool trip, with a bit of harmless nudity and violence for good measure (just like Cecil De Mille)."